I have been working remotely for almost a year now. While this change in my work environment resulted in one of my most exciting career moves, it also turned out to be one of my most challenging. I have this co-worker that has a mind of his own, always make a mess at lunch, and will even take naps. That’s right, he takes naps. I work with this co-worker and sometimes he acts like he is two.
Can you relate? I thought so! Here are a few tips I have come up with that will help you get through those EXTRA busy days while juggling parenting, work, and the regular day-to-day.
Get Them Involved
Starting a new job can be enough of a challenge. Add in watching a 2-year old full-time, cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner and hitting work deadlines.
I found myself on the losing end almost daily. Then I had an idea. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I decided instead of trying to distract him with Bubble Guppies and Paw Patrol, I would get him involved. If laundry needed to be done, he helped. If the dishwasher needed to be emptied, he helped. If I had a conference call, he watched (with a full container of cheesies on hand).
I got him as involved as possible and it worked. I could not believe how much work I was getting done but I was. He was happy, my clients were happy and I was happy.
Don’t Wake up Early
That’s right. Don’t set yourself up to work ridiculous hours. I did this and trust me, you will get tired and your performance will start to decline. I was waking up at 5:30 am then working until midnight 2-4 days out of the week. All this did make me more irritable, I wound up even more behind and I had little to no patience.
My advice: Sunday evening or Monday when you start your day, take a quick 10-20 minutes to plan out your week and then STICK to your schedule.
Finally – be honest. Tell the people you work with that along with working 40 hours a week you also are a full-time parent with your child at home all day too. I promise they will appreciate the honesty upfront. The majority of us have children, or enough compassion to understand what it takes even if you do not have your own children.
Get your child involved, stick to a schedule and be honest and I assure you working from home will continue to be the greatest workplace you’ve worked at!
Honesty is the best policy is an old but well-known proverb. It certainly is and a lot of people believe it. People will always appreciate the honesty of another.
However, the truth is uncomfortable to talk about, especially when you’re in an office set up. Business relationships are always built in a way where you need to put on a false persona. You need to save face and most of the time you have to hide who you really are.
Many professionals have to put up with this because authenticity in the workplace is something that can’t be easily achieved. No matter what your background is, the cold and honest (ironic huh?) truth remains that you have to hide your real persona.
Being authentic at work might trigger other people. You will be the target of envy, of scorn, and you will be an outcast.
So what does freedom in work actually mean? Does it mean having a pantry filled with things that you can eat at your own leisure? Does it mean having a dress code that allows you to come into the office while your favorite hoodie and sweatpants?
This is true for some people but to many others, it means being able to bring out who they truly are without having to fear to be an outcast. It means that’s they can simply be themselves. The question now presents itself, how do we achieve this for everyone?
We are all made up of layers
In this age, if you don’t act like other people or do what other people do, then you are already a target for scorn. Your unique perspective and actions aren’t really accepted by corporations and businesses.
People who come from the LGBTQ+ community or married individuals who choose not to have children may find that even the simplest of questions could open up a hazardous path leading to awkward office conversations. These people may be forced to answer a question that they don’t want to answer.
Questions like “when do you plan on having kids?” or “are you really gay?” are inquiries that people who fall under the spectrum of being ‘different’ have to deal with every day. And honestly, it can get very tiring after a while.
Even if you aren’t technically hiding your sexual orientation, people will always still want you to magically conform to the norms of society. They may be thinking that asking questions like this might magically make you change your mind on whatever you’ve already set your heart on. To be honest, this never works.
The Global Head of Culture & Inclusion at Twilio, LaFawn Davis says that “We are all intersectional, meaning all have layers with which we identify. There can also be negative and long-term impact on intersectional technologists from expending the energy to determine whether or not all their layers will be welcomed or excluded”
The Pressure to Cover
In day to day office conversations, a non-conforming person may find themselves straining their minds. They are always burdened because they are always trying to think of ways to communicate with other co-workers without offending any of them.
An example of this would be, someone who does not have any interest in the importance of marriage or relationships in general. This person would have to find a way to explain that they are not interested in other people without offending the inquirer. In some cases, the non-conformist will have to evade the question altogether.
In tow with evading a conversation, individuals who find themselves in this type of situation commonly resort to talking about another co-worker. Not from ill intent, but from the perspective that this would be the only way to change the topic.
Of course, this is easier said than done. For the non-conformist, it would be hardly able to shake off the innate feeling of wanting to be different. One could not simply toss aside the feeling of being authentic. But, to talk about taboo things in the office would only lead to more complications.
Research shows that the act of ‘covering’, or the act of someone downplaying their differences from the norm actually affects the workforce badly. 3000 employees in over 20 large US firms had a turnout of 61% of employees that had faced implicit pressure to cover up their true selves in some way. While 50% of employees said that the pressure had disappeared because of their commitment to the company.
However, this practice still has a negative effect on people. This practice hinders the performance of the workers, and it could drain the individual in the process. Covering is also seen as a leading cause of attrition, with over 1000 casualties in companies.
Lead with Empathy
The best solution to this persistent problem is to develop safer and friendlier environments for people who fall under the spectrum of ‘non-conforming’. Leading with empathy includes implementing inclusive values, such as respecting an individual’s preferred pronouns.
To an employee, the people with the most influence are their supervisors. Once their team managers make them feel like their needs are acknowledged and that they’ve established that they are in a safe zone, then these individuals will feel less of an outcast and less likely to leave the company. Authentic concern for employees always produces good results, whether or not they are classified into the minority.
Supervisors must also strive to lead by example. Once someone from a higher position starts setting a new norm, their subordinates will start picking up on the habit. If everyone in the company starts being their true to themselves without having to hide behind a mask, then the company can slowly become a safe and conducive environment.
Being ‘authentic’ in this world is a hard feat to accomplish, but staying open and humble in a conversation helps in trying to make authenticity become the new norm. There is no single answer to the existing problem but if leaders lead with bravery and trust, they are sure to herd the industry into the right path.
The modern worker is no stranger to working after hours. While your job offer did not explicitly say that you would be working a few hours after 5 pm, you might be needed to work extra hours because of deadlines and changes in schedule. In fact, it’s even a norm now. Not a lot of people can escape from this trend. And if you were asked to work extra hours, then you might as well enjoy it right?
Picture this. It’s finally time to go home, but then your boss calls you about a project that you need to finish ASAP. It’s a bummer, however, it’s a situation that we are powerless to stop. Working overtime doesn’t mean working uncomfortably though. Here are a few tips and tricks to make your late night a bit more pleasant.
Go Home if You Can
If you’re able to bring your documents or project files home, then, by all means, do it. A lot of work doesn’t mean that you will have to stay and do it all at once inside the office. A change of scenery and of ambiance will dramatically boost your productivity. Staying in the same place for a long period of time will bore you and it will eventually wear you down.
Your work will feel less of a burden as you find yourself in the comfort of your own home. Relax and leave your professional persona without having to worry about anyone looking over your shoulder, have some dinner or snacks, dress up comfortably and finish up what you need to do.
If your office comes equipped with lockers or if you have your own permanent workstation, then it would be a good idea to change into a set of comfortable clothes. It’s extremely useful for times that you need to burn that midnight oil.
Being in the office after hours means that there are fewer people to see what you’re doing. This also means that there are no supervisors to tell you what to do. It’s time to loosen your tie and make yourself at home. You can even take off your shoes and put your feet on the desk.
Take a Break and Eat Something
Can’t leave the office and go back home for a good meal? Give yourself a break and look for ways to eat out or eat in (whatever you prefer). There’s no use in working on an empty stomach. See if you can get food delivered to your building, or if there is anything in the office pantry that you can munch on.
Feeling a little drowsy? Go get a cup of coffee to improve your condition.
If dinner is out of the picture, remember that you can snack on other things until you get home. Get some nuts, or some candy, to help wake you up and keep your focus.
Know Your Limits
Working after hours is challenging as it is, but if you feel like you won’t be able to do anything productive, then learn to stop and call it a day.
If you’re tired and worn out, then stop. You’re just putting your work to waste. You’ll probably be called out on it and you’ll have to do your work all over again. If staying up late is not your forte, why not just call it a day? Wake up earlier the next day and finish everything you haven’t. Your work will produce better results this way.
Start With the Most Urgent and Most Challenging Things
After getting your game face on, organize and execute your tasks based on priority and difficulty. Confirm which ones you will need to present tomorrow morning and which ones you need to do right away.
The next thing that you have to do is to start on the tasks that require your full brainpower to execute. You may not be able to finish the whole task tonight, but having a head start will help you finish things easier. A solid foundation is a key to finishing any task without difficulty.
Plan Before You Get Started
Starting without a plan is like going on a trip without a map or a navigation app. failing to plan is planning to fail you know.
You’ll soon find yourself getting lost in a sea of things to do. Make a list of things that you need to do before setting out to finish them.
You may discover things that you won’t be able to do without a co-worker’s cooperation. Before business hours end, remember to make a list of things you need from other people so that you can do your work effectively. This will ensure a smooth sailing operation for both you and your colleague.
Set Yourself Up for the Next Day
Tonight isn’t the only night you’ll be working in the office. Remember that you need to come back the next day to start on your other tasks (or tasks that you didn’t finish tonight). Make a list of everything you need to have.
If you did your extra work at home, then spend time preparing for the things that you the next day.
All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy. Are you finally done with your tasks? Are you ready to go home? Awesome!
Your efforts to finish the task deserve a reward. No matter how small the reward, you’ll still get a good confidence boost. Take some time to treat yourself.
Let your mind and body unwind with a good bath, indulge in a snack, or if you feel too tired to do anything, then go to sleep. Sleep is the best reward that you can give your body.
Working late to accomplish tasks isn’t an easy or fun thing to do, but it’ll be a little bit more bearable if you know how to handle it effectively. Hopefully, late night jobs don’t happen to you frequently. Remember to take care of yourself and recognize when enough is enough.